THE WAR-TIME JOURNAL OF A
ELIZA FRANCES ANDREWS
COPYRIGHT, 1908, BY
Submitted by Christina Palmer
THE PASSING OF THE CONFEDERACY
April 22 - May 5, 1865
EXPLANATORY NOTE. - The little town of Washington, Ga., where the remaining events of this narrative took place, was the center of a wealthy planting district about fifty miles above Augusta, on a branch of the Georgia Railroad. The population at this time was about 2,200, one-third of which was probably white. Like most of the older towns in the State it is built around an open square, in the center of which stood the quaint old county courthouse so often mentioned in this part of the diary, with the business houses of the village grouped around it. On the north side was the old bank building, where Mr. Davis held his last meeting with such of his official family as could be got together, and signed his last official paper as president of the Southern Confederacy. Two rooms on the lower floor were used for business purposes, while the rest of the building was occupied as a residence by the cashier. On the outbreak of the war the bank went out of business, but Dr. J. J. Robertson, who was cashier at the time, continued to occupy the building in the interest of the stockholders. Mrs. Robertson, like everybody else in the village at that time, had received into her house a number of refugees and other strangers, whom the collapse of the Confederacy had stranded there. Its original name clung to the building long after it ceased to have
anything to do with finance, and hence the frequent allusions to "the bank" in the diary.
And now, that the narrative of the diary may be clearer, I must crave the reader's indulgence while I add a few words about the personal surroundings of the writer. A diary, unfortunately, is from its very nature such a self-centered recital that the personality of the author, however insignificant, cannot be got rid of.
My father, Judge Garnett Andrews, was a Georgian, a lawyer by profession, and for nearly thirty years of his life, judge of the Northern Circuit, holding that office at the time of his death in 1873. He was stoutly opposed to secession, but made no objection to his sons' going into the Confederate army, and I am sure would not have wished to see them fighting against the South. Although he had retired from public life at the time, he was elected to the legislature in 1860 under rather unusual circumstances; for the secession sentiment in the county was overwhelming, and his unwavering opposition to it well known. He did his best to hold Georgia in the Union, but he might as well have tried to tie up the northwest wind in the corner of a pocket handkerchief. The most he could do was to advocate the call of a convention instead of voting the State out of the Union on the spot.
I shall never forget that night when the news came that Georgia had seceded. While the people of the village were celebrating the event with bonfires and bell ringing and speech making, he shut himself up in his house, darkened the windows, and paced up and down the room in the greatest agitation. Every now and then, when the noise of the shouting and the ringing of bells would penetrate to our ears through the closed doors and windows, he would pause and exclaim: "Poor fools! They may ring
their bells now, but they will wring their hands - yes, and their hearts, too - before they are done with it."
This scene made a deep impression on my mind, as may be judged from the frequent allusions to it in the diary. My sister Metta and I were pouting in a corner because he would not allow us to go and see the fun. My two brothers, Henry and Garnett - Fred was on the plantation in Mississippi - were taking an active part in the celebration, and I myself had helped to make the flag that was waving in honor of the event, which he so bitterly deplored. It was the same Lone Star banner of which mention is made in the text. My brother Henry, who was about as hot-headed a fire-eater as could be found in the South, had brought the material to his young wife - Cora, of the journal - and we made it on the sly, well knowing that our "Bonnie Blue Flag" would soon become a "Conquered Banner," or rather a confiscated one, if father should once get wind of what we were about. It consisted of a large five-pointed star, the emblem of States' Rights, and was made of white domestic on a field of blue. It was afterwards ripped off in the strenuous days when our boys were following the "Stars and Bars," and the blue field used to line the blanket of a Confederate soldier. What was left of it when he came back is still preserved in the family.
My father was not what would now be called a rich man, though his fortune was ample for those times. I do not think he owned more than 200 negroes. The extravagant ideas that have been propagated by irresponsible writers about the fabulous wealth of the old planters had no foundation in fact, outside a few exceptional cases. There was, at the time of which I am writing, but a single man in Georgia who was reputed to be worth as much as a million dollars, and he gained not one iota of importance
or influence from this source. His family lived very much as the rest of us did, and their social position was as good as anybody's, but for that divinity which would now attach to the mere vulgar fact of being the richest man of his state, it is doubtful whether, if a list were made of the twenty-five most influential families in Georgia at that time, his name would even be mentioned in it.
While the structure of our social fabric was aristocratic, in the actual relations of the white population with one another it was extremely democratic. Life was simple, patriarchal, unostentatious. Our chief extravagance was the exercise of unlimited hospitality. Anybody that was respectable was welcome to come as often as they liked and stay as long as they pleased, and I remember very few occasions during my father's life when there were no guests in the house. His family proper, at this time, not counting guests, included, besides his wife and children (there were seven of us), my brother Henry's wife and her little daughter, Maud, now Mrs. J. K. Ohl, known to the press as Annulet Andrews; Mrs. L. S. Brown ("Aunt Sallie" of the diary), and Miss Eliza Bowen, a niece of my father, who had been adopted into his family many years before, on the death of her parents, not as a dependent, but for the sake of the guidance and protection which every "female" was supposed, in those days, to require at the hand of her nearest male relation. She was a woman of unusual intelligence, but full of amusing eccentricities that were a constant source of temptation to us fun-loving young people, and often got us into trouble with our elders. She was known later as the author of a successful school book, "Astronomy by Observation."
"Aunt Sallie" was a quaint, lovable old lady, famous for her good dinners and her wonderful frosted cakes,
without which no wedding supper in the village was complete. But the accomplishment she took the greatest pride in, was her gift for "writing poetry" - which confined itself, however, to the innocent practice of composing acrostics on the names of her friends. The deprecating, yet self-conscious air with which these very original productions were slipped into our hands on birthdays and other anniversaries, was only less amusing than the verses themselves. She had no children, but a little pet negro named Simon, the son of a favorite maid who had died, filled a large place in her affections and used to "bulldoze" her as completely as if she had been the mother of a dozen unruly boys of her own. We rather rejoiced in her emancipation when the foolish lad deserted her for the delights of freedom, soon after the close of the war, but the kind-hearted old lady never ceased to mourn over his ingratitude. She was a great beauty in her youth, and to the day of her death, in 1866, retained a coquettish regard for appearances, which showed itself in a scrupulous anxiety about the set of her cap frills and the fit of her prim, but always neat and handsome, black gowns.
It was in the later years of her life, that she came to live at Haywood in order to be near my mother, who was her niece, and occupied a cottage that was built especially for her in a corner of the yard. It was a common custom in those days, when the demands of hospitality outgrew the capacity of the planter's mansion, to build one or more cottages near it to receive the overflow, and hence, the old-fashioned Southern homestead was often more like a small village than an ordinary residence. There were two cottages, one on each side of the front gate, at Haywood, one occupied by "Aunt Sallie," the other built for the use of my married sister, Mrs. Troup
Butler, when she came up from the plantation with her family to spend the summer. The main residence was spoken of as "the big house," or simply, "the house," to distinguish it from the other buildings. Including the stables and negro quarters, there were, if I remember correctly, fourteen buildings, besides "the big house," on the grounds at Haywood, and this was not a plantation home with its great population of field hands, but a town residence, where there were never more than twenty or thirty servants to be housed, including children.
The Irvin Artillery, so frequently alluded to, was the first military company organized in the county, and contained the flower of the youth of the village. It was named for a prominent citizen of the town, father of the unreconstructible "Charley" mentioned later, and an uncle of the unwitting Maria, whose innocent remark gave such umbrage to my father's belligerent daughter.
April 22, Saturday. - I went to bed as soon as I had eaten supper last night and never did I enjoy a sweeter rest; home beds are cleaner and softer than any others, even Mrs. Harris's. I spent the better part of the day unpacking and arranging my things. The house is so crowded with company that I have had to give up my room and double in with Mett. I keep my clothes wherever I can find a place for them. We went to walk after dinner and found the streets swarming with people. Paroled men from Lee's army are expected every day now, and the town is already as full as it can hold. The only hotel has been closed and private hospitality is taxed to the
utmost. While we were out, the Toombs girls called with John Ficklen and that nice Capt. Thomas we met in Milledgeville.
April 23, Sunday. - Gen. Elzey and staff arrived early in the afternoon and called here at once. The general has a fine, soldierly appearance and charming manners, like all West Pointers - except, of course, those brutes like Butler and Sherman and their murderous clan. Capt. Irwin, Mrs. Elzey's brother, is going to stay at our house, and the whole family has fallen in love with him at first sight. He is the dearest, jolliest fellow that ever lived, and keeps up his spirits under circumstances that would have put down even Mark Tapley. His wife and six daughters are in the enemy's lines, at Norfolk; six daughters, in these awful times! and the father of them can still laugh. He has a way of screwing up his face when he says anything funny that gives him an indescribably comical appearance. This is enhanced by a little round bald head, like Santa Claus, the result of a singular accident, while he was still a young man. At a dinner party given on the occasion of a wedding in the family, one of the servants let fall a hot oyster pate on top of his head. It blistered the scalp so that the hair fell out and never grew back. He must have been very good-natured not to assassinate that servant on the spot.
April 24, Monday. - The shattered remains of Lee's army are beginning to arrive. There is an endless
stream passing between the transportation office and the dépot, and trains are going and coming at all hours. The soldiers bring all sorts of rumors and keep us stirred up in a state of never-ending excitement. Our avenue leads from the principal street on which they pass, and great numbers stop to rest in the grove. Emily is kept busy cooking rations for them, and pinched as we are ourselves for supplies it is impossible to refuse anything to the men that have been fighting for us. Even when they don't ask for anything the poor fellows look so tired and hungry that we feel tempted to give them everything we have. Two nice-looking officers came to the kitchen door this afternoon while I was in there making some sorghum cakes to send to Gen. Elzeys camp They then walked slowly through the back yard, and seemed reluctant to tear themselves away from such a sweet, beautiful place. Nearly everybody that passes the street gate stops and looks up the avenue and I know they can't help thinking what a beautiful place it is. The Cherokee rose hedge is white with blooms. It is glorious. A great many of the soldiers camp in the grove, though Col. Weems [the Confederate commandant of the post] has located a public camping-ground for them further out of town. The officers often ask for a night's lodging, but our house is always so full of friends who have a nearer claim, that a great many have to be refused. It hurts my conscience ever to turn off a Confederate soldier on any account, but we
are so overwhelmed with company - friends and people bringing letters of introduction - that the house, big as it is, will hardly hold us all, and members of the family have to pack together like sardines. Capt. John Nightingale's servant came in this afternoon - the "little Johnny Nightingale" I used to play with down on the old Tallassee plantation - but reports that he does not know where his master is. He says the Yankees captured him (the negro) and took away his master's horse that he was tending, but as soon as night came on he made his escape on another horse that he "took" from them, and put out for home. He says he don't like the Yankees because they "didn't show no respec' for his feelin's." He talks with a strong salt-water brogue and they laughed at him which he thought very ill-mannered. Father sent him round to the negro quarters to wait till his master turns up.
April 25, Tuesday. - Maj. Hall, one of Gen. Elzey's staff, has been taken with typhoid fever, so father sent out to the camp and told them to bring him to our house, but Mrs. Robertson had a spare room at the bank and took him there where he can be better cared for than in our house, that is full as an ant-hill already. I went round to the bank after breakfast to see Mrs. Elzey and inquire about him. The square is so crowded with soldiers and government wagons that it is not easy to make way through it. It is especially difficult around the government offices, where the poor,
ragged, starved, and dirty remnants of Lee's heroic army are gathered day and night. The sidewalk along there is alive with vermin, and some people say they have seen lice crawling along on the walls of the houses. Poor fellows, this is worse than facing Yankee bullets. These men were, most of them, born gentlemen, and there could be no more pitiful evidence of the hardships they have suffered than the lack of means to free themselves from these disgusting creatures. Even dirt and rags can be heroic, sometimes. At the spring in our grove, where the soldiers come in great numbers to wash their faces, and sometimes, their clothes, lice have been seen crawling in the grass, so that we are afraid to walk there. Little Washington is now, perhaps, the most important military post in our poor, doomed Confederacy. The naval and medical departments have been moved here - what there is left of them. Soon all this will give place to Yankee barracks, and our dear old Confederate gray will be seen no more. The men are all talking about going to Mexico and Brazil; if all emigrate who say they are going to, we shall have a nation made up of women, negroes, and Yankees.
I joined a party after dinner in a walk out to the general camping ground in Cousin Will Pope's woods. The Irvin Artillery are coming in rapidly; I suppose they will all be here by the end of the week - or what is left of them - but their return is even sadder and amid bitterer tears than their departure, for now "we
weep as they that have no hope." Everybody is cast down and humiliated, and we are all waiting in suspense to know what our cruel masters will do with us. Think of a vulgar plebeian like Andy Johnson, and that odious Yankee crew at Washington, lording it over Southern gentlemen! I suppose we shall be subjected to every indignity that hatred and malice can heap upon us. Till it comes, "Let us eat, drink and be merry, for to-morrow we die." Only, we have almost nothing to eat, and to drink, and still less to be merry about.
Our whirlwind of a cousin, Robert Ball, has made his appearance, but is hurrying on to New Orleans and says he has but one day to spend with us.
The whole world seems to be moving on Washington now. An average of 2,000 rations are issued daily, and over 15,000 men are said to have passed through already, since it became a military post, though the return of the paroled men has as yet hardly begun.
April 26, Wednesday. - Gen. Elzey lent his ambulances, and we had a charming little picnic under the management of Capt. Hardy. We left town at seven o'clock, before the sun was too hot, and drove to a creek ten miles out, where we spent the day in a beautiful grove, so shady that the sun could not penetrate at noon-day. Gen. Elzey and all the staff were there. Our amusements were cards, fishing in the creek, rambling about through the woods, and sitting in little
circles on the grass, talking about what we are going to do under the new order of things. Some comical pictures were drawn of our future occupations, and we guyed each other a good deal about our prospects. I am to take in washing, Mett to raise chickens and peddle them in a cart drawn by Dixie; Capt. Irwin is to join the minstrels, and Capt. Palfrey to be a dancing master - but down in the bottom of our hearts we felt that there is likely to be little occasion for laughter in the end. The drive home was rather hot and dusty, and our enjoyment was damped by the sight of the poor soldiers that we met, trundling along the road; they looked so weary and ragged and travel-stained. Many of them, overcome with fatigue, were lying down to rest on the bare ground by the roadside. I felt ashamed of myself for riding when they had to walk. These are the straggling remnants of those splendid armies that have been for four years a terror to the North, the glory of the South, and the wonder of the world. Alas, alas!
April 27, Thursday. - Robert Ball left for New Orleans, Mary Day for a short visit to Augusta, and Cora returned from there, where she had gone to bid farewell to General and Mrs. Fry, who have arranged to make their future home in Cuba. The Elzeys and many other visitors called during the evening. We had a delightful serenade in the night, but Toby kept up such a barking that we couldn't half get the good of it. Their songs were all about the sea, so I suppose
the serenaders were naval officers. The navy department has been ordered away from here - and Washington would seem a very queer location for a navy that had any real existence. Capt. Parker sent Lieut. Peck this morning with a letter to father and seven great boxes full of papers and instruments belonging to the department, which he requested father to take care of. Father had them stored in the cellar, the only place where he could find a vacant spot, and so now, about all that is left of the Confederate Navy is here in our house, and we laugh and tell father, that he, the staunchest Union man in Georgia, is head of the Confederate Navy.
April 28, Friday. - Dr. Aylett, one of the lecturers at Bellevue Hospital when Henry was a student there, took breakfast with us. He is stone blind, and making his way to Selma, Ala., attended only by a negro boy. If the negro should desert, he would be in a forlorn plight, though he does seem to have a wonderful faculty for taking care of himself. I have heard Henry say he used to find his way about in New York City, with no guide but his stick, as readily as if he had had eyes.
I was busy all the morning helping to get ready for a supper that father gave to Gen. Elzey and staff. The table was beautiful; it shone like a mirror. There were seats for twenty-two, and everything on it solid silver, except the cups and saucers and plates, which were of beautiful old china that had belonged to
Cora's grandmother. But it was all in absurd contrast to what we had to eat. The cake was all made of sorghum molasses, and the strawberries were sweetened with the coarsest kind of brown sugar, but we were glad to have even that, and it tasted good to us hungry Rebs. Emily was kept so busy all day cooking rations for soldiers that she hardly had time for anything else, and I was so sorry for the poor fellows that no matter what I happened to have in my hand, if a soldier came up and looked wistfuly at it, I couldn't help giving it to him. Some of them, as they talked to me about the surrender, would break down and cry like children. I took all the lard and eggs mother had left out for Emily to cook with and gave to them, because I could not bear to see them eating heavy old biscuit made of nothing but flour and water. In this way a good part of our supper was disposed of before we sat down to it, but nobody grudged the loss. In spite of his being such a strong Union man, and his bitter opposition to secession, father never refuses anything to the soldiers. I blame the secession politicians myself, but the cause for which my brothers risked their lives, the cause for which so many noble Southerners have bled and died, and for which such terrible sacrifices have been made, is dear to my heart, right or wrong. The more misfortunes overwhelm my poor country, the more I love it; the more the Yankees triumph, the worse I hate them, wretches! I would rather be wrong with men like Lee and Davis,
than right with a lot of miserable oppressors like Stanton and Thad Stevens. The wrong of disrupting the old Union was nothing to the wrongs that are being done for its restoration.
We had a delightful evening, in spite of the clouds gathering about us. The Toombses, Popes, Mary Wynn, Mr. Saile, and Capt. John Garnett, our Virginia cousin, were invited to meet the general and staff. Capt. Garnett is one of the handsomest men I ever saw, with magnificent black eyes and hair, but seems to me wanting in vivacity. I reckon it is because he is in love with a frisky widow, who is leading him a dance, for the gentlemen all like him, and say that he has a great deal of dry humor. We had several sets of the Lancers and Prince Imperial, interspersed with waltzes and galops, and wound up with an old-fashioned Virginia reel, Gen. Elzey and I leading off. The general is too nice for anything. I told Mrs. Elzey that if she hadn't had first chance at him, I would fall over head and ears in love with him myself.
April 29, Saturday. - Visitors all day, in shoals and swarms. Capt. Irwin brought Judge Crump of Richmond, to stay at our house. He is an ugly old fellow, with a big nose, but perfectly delightful in conversation, and father says he wishes he would stay a month. Capt. Irwin seems very fond of him, and says there is no man in Virginia more beloved and respected. He is Assistant Secretary of the Treasury or something
of the sort, and is wandering about the country with his poor barren exchequer, trying to protect what is left of it, for the payment of Confederate soldiers. He has in charge, also, the assets of some Richmond banks, of which he is, or was, president, dum Troja fuit. He says that in Augusta he met twenty-five of his clerks with ninety-five barrels of papers not worth a pin all put together, which they had brought out of Richmond, while things of real value were left a prey to the enemy.
April 30, Sunday. - We were all standing under the ash tree by the fountain after breakfast, watching the antics of a squirrel up in the branches, when Gen. Elzey and Touch [name by which the general's son, Arnold, a lad of 14, was known among his friends] came to tell us that Garnett was wounded in the fight at Salisbury, N. C. Mr. Saile brought the news from Augusta, but could give no particulars except that his wound was not considered dangerous, and that his galvanized Yanks behaved badly, as anybody might have known they would. A little later the mail brought a letter from Gen. Gardiner, his commanding officer, entirely relieving our fears for his personal safety. He is a prisoner, but will soon be paroled. When I came in from church in the afternoon, I found Burton Harrison, Mr. Davis's private secretary, among our guests. He is said to be engaged to the Miss Constance Carey, of whom my old Montgomery acquaintance, that handsome Ed Carey, used to talk
so much. He came in with Mrs. Davis, who is being entertained at Dr. Ficklen's. Nobody knows where the President is, but I hope he is far west of this by now. All sorts of ridiculous rumors are afloat concerning him; one, that he passed through town yesterday hid in a box marked "specie," might better begin with an h. Others, equally reliable, appoint every day in the week for his arrival in Washington with a bodyguard of 1,000 men, but I am sure he has better sense than to travel in such a conspicuous way. Mr. Harrison probably knows more about his whereabouts than anybody else, but of course we ask no questions. Mrs. Davis herself says that she has no idea where he is, which is the only wise thing for her to say. The poor woman is in a deplorable condition - no home, no money, and her husband a fugitive. She says she sold her plate in Richmond, and in the stampede from that place, the money, all but fifty dollars, was left behind. I am very sorry for her, and wish I could do something to help her, but we are all reduced to poverty, and the most we can do is for those of us who have homes to open our doors to the rest. If secession were to do over, I expect father's warning voice would no longer be silenced by jeers, and I would no more be hooted at as the daughter of a "submissionist." But I have not much respect for the sort of Union men that are beginning to talk big now, and hope my father will never turn against his own people like that infamous "Committee of Seventeen," in Savannah.
Right or wrong, I believe in standing by your own people, especially when they are down. *
May 1, Monday. - Crowds of callers all day. The Irvin Artillery are back, and it was almost like a reception, so many of them kept coming in. Capt. Thomas called again with Capt. Garnett. They staid a long time, and we enjoyed their visit, except for a stupid blunder. Capt. Thomas informed us that he was a widower, with one child, but he looked so boyish that we thought he was joking and treated the matter with such levity that we were horribly mortified later, when Capt. Garnett told us it was true. I told Mett neither of us could ever hope to be stepmother to that little boy.
Men were coming in all day, with busy faces, to see Mr. Harrison, and one of them brought news of Johnston's surrender, but Mr. Harrison didn't tell anybody about it except father, and the rest of us were left in ignorance till afternoon when Fred came back with the news from Augusta. While we were at dinner, a brother of Mrs. Davis came in and called for Mr. Harrison, and after a hurried interview with him, Mr. Harrison came back into the dining-room and said it had been decided that Mrs. Davis would
* Reference is made above to a meeting held in Savannah a short time before by a small number of "loyal" citizens, including the mayor and some of the city council, with a view to bringing the municipal government into harmony with the Federal authorities. Their action was considered servile and unwarranted, and excited great indignation throughout the State.
leave town to-morrow. Delicacy forbade our asking any questions, but I suppose they were alarmed by some of the numerous reports that are always flying about the approach of the Yankees. Mother called on Mrs. Davis this afternoon, and she really believes they are on their way here and may arrive at any moment. She seemed delighted with her reception here, and, to the honor of our town, it can be truly said that she has received more attention than would have been shown her even in the palmiest days of her prosperity.
The conduct of a Texas regiment in the streets this afternoon gave us a sample of the chaos and general demoralization that may be expected to follow the breaking up of our government. They raised a riot about their rations, in which they were joined by all the disorderly elements among both soldiers and citizens. First they plundered the Commissary Department, and then turned loose on the quartermaster's stores. Paper, pens, buttons, tape, cloth - everything in the building - was seized and strewn about on the ground. Negroes and children joined the mob and grabbed what they could of the plunder. Col. Weems's provost guard refused to interfere, saying they were too good soldiers to fire on their comrades, and so the plundering went on unopposed. Nobody seemed to care much, as we all know the Yankees will get it in the end, any way, if our men don't. I was at Miss Maria Randolph's when the disturbance began,
but by keeping to the back streets I avoided the worst of the row, though I encountered a number of stragglers, running away with their booty. The soldiers were very generous with their "confiscated" goods, giving away paper, pens, tape, &c., to anybody they happened to meet. One of them poked a handful of pen staves at me; another, staggering under an armful of stationery, threw me a ream of paper, saying: "There, take that and write to your sweetheart on it." I took no notice of any of them, but hurried on home as fast as I could, all the way meeting negroes, children, and men loaded with plunder. When I reached home I found some of our own servants with their arms full of thread, paper, and pens, which they offered to sell me, and one of them gave me several reams of paper. I carried them to father, and he collected all the other booty he could find, intending to return it to headquarters, but he was told that there is no one to receive it, no place to send it to - in fact, there seemed to be no longer any headquarters nor any other semblance of authority. Father saved one box of bacon for Col. Weems by hauling it away in his wagon and concealing it in his smokehouse. All of Johnston's army and the greater portion of Lee's are still to pass through, and since the rioters have destroyed so much of the forage and provisions intended for their use, there will be great difficulty in feeding them. They did not stop at food, but helped themselves to all the horses and mules they needed. A band
of them made a raid on Gen. Elzey's camp and took nine of his mules. They excused themselves by saying that all government stores will be seized by the Yankees in a few days, any way, if left alone, and our own soldiers might as well get the good of them while they can. This would be true, if there were not so many others yet to come who ought to have their share.
Our back yard and kitchen have been filled all day, as usual, with soldiers waiting to have their rations cooked. One of them, who had a wounded arm, came into the house to have it dressed, and said that he was at Salisbury when Garnett was shot and saw him fall. He told some miraculous stories about the valorous deeds of "the colonel," and although they were so exaggerated that I set them down as apocryphal, I gave him a piece of cake, notwithstanding, to pay him for telling them.
May 2, Tuesday. - Mr. Harrison left this morning, with a God-speed from all the family and prayers for the safety of the honored fugitives committed to his charge.
The disorders begun by the Texans yesterday were continued to-day, every fresh band that arrived from the front falling into the way of their predecessors. They have been pillaging the ordnance stores at the dépot, in which they were followed by negroes, boys, and mean white men. I don't see what people are thinking about to let ammunition fall into the hands of the negroes, but everybody is demoralized and reckless
and nobody seems to care about anything any more. A number of paroled men came into our grove where they sat under the trees to empty the cartridges they had seized. Confederate money is of no more use now than so much waste paper, but by filling their canteens with powder they can trade it off along the road for provisions. They scattered lead and cartridges all over the ground. Marshall went out after they left and picked up enough to last him for years. The balls do not fit his gun, but he can remold them and draw the powder out of the cartridges to shoot with. I am uneasy at having so much explosive material in the house, especially when I consider the careless manner in which we have to live. There is so much company and so much to do that even the servants hardly have time to eat. I never lived in such excitement and confusion in my life. Thousands of people pass through Washington every day, and our house is like a free hotel; father welcomes everybody as long as there is a square foot of vacant space under his roof. Meeting all these pleasant people is the one compensation of this dismal time, and I don't know how I shall exist when they have all gone their ways, and we settle down in the mournful quiet of subjugation. Besides the old friends that are turning up every day, there is a continual stream of new faces crossing my path, and I make some pleasant acquaintance or form some new friendship every day. The sad part of it is that the most of them I will probably
never meet again, and if I should, where, and how? What will they be? What will I be? These are portentous questions in such a time as this.
We had a larger company to dinner to-day than usual, but no one that specially interested me. In the afternoon came a poor soldier from Abbeville, with a message from Garnett that he was there, waiting for father to send the carriage to bring him home. He sat on the soft grass before the door, and we fed him on sorghum cake and milk, the only things we had to offer. I am glad the cows have not been emancipated, for the soldiers always beg for milk; I never saw one that was not eager for it at any time. After the soldier, Ed Napier came in, who was a captain in Garnett's battalion and was taken prisoner with him. He says that Garnett covered himself with glory; even the Yankees spoke of his gallantry and admired him.
It seems as if all the people I ever heard of, or never heard of, either, for that matter, are passing through Washington. Some of our friends pass on without stopping to see us because they say they are too ragged and dirty to show themselves. Poor fellows! if they only knew how honorable rags and dirt are now, in our eyes, when endured in the service of their country, they would not be ashamed of them. The son of the richest man in New Orleans trudged through the other day, with no coat to his back, no shoes on his feet. The town is full of celebrities, and many poor fugitives, whose necks are in danger, meet here to concert
plans for escape, and I put it in my prayers every night that they may be successful. Gen. Wigfall started for the West some days ago, but his mules were stolen, and he had to return. He is frantic, they say, with rage and disappointment. Gen. Toombs left to-night, but old Governor Brown, it is said, has determined not to desert his post. I am glad he has done something to deserve respect, and hope he may get off yet, as soon as the Yankees appoint a military governor. Clement Clay is believed to be well on his way to the Trans-Mississippi, the Land of Promise now, or rather the City of Refuge from which it is hoped a door of escape may be found to Mexico or Cuba. The most terrible part of the war is now to come, the "Bloody Assizes." "Kirke's Lambs," in the shape of Yankee troopers, are closing in upon us; our own disbanded armies, ragged, starving, hopeless, reckless, are roaming about without order or leaders, making their way to their far-off homes as best they can. The props that held society up are broken. Everything is in a state of disorganization and tumult. We have no currency, no law save the primitive code that might makes right. We are in a transition state from war to subjugation, and it is far worse than was the transition from peace to war. The suspense and anxiety in which we live are terrible.
May 3, Wednesday. - Fred started for Abbeville in the carriage to bring Garnett home. We hear now that the Yankees are in Abbeville, and, if so, I am
afraid they will take the horses away and then I don't know how Garnett will get home. They are father's carriage horses, and we would be in a sad plight with no way to ride. Our cavalry are playing havoc with stock all through the country. The Texans are especially noted in this respect. They have so far to go that the temptation is greater in their case. There is hardly a planter in Wilkes County who has not lost one or more of his working animals since they began to pass through. They seize horses, even when they are already well-mounted, and trade them off. They broke into Mr. Ben Bowdre's stable and took possession of his carriage horses, and helped themselves to two from the buggies of quiet citizens on the square. Almost everybody I know has had horses stolen or violently taken from him. I was walking with Dr. Sale in the street yesterday evening, and a soldier passed us leading a mule, while the rightful owner followed after, wasting breath in useless remonstrances. As they passed us, the soldier called out: "A man that's going to Texas must have a mule to ride, don't you think so, lady?" I made no answer, Dr. Sale gave a doubtful assent. It is astonishing what a demoralizing influence association with horses seems to exercise over the human race. Put a man on horseback and his next idea is to play the bully or to steal something. We had an instance of ill-behavior at our house last night - the first and only one that has occurred among the hundreds - thousands
I might almost say, that have stopped at our door. Our back yard and kitchen were filled all day with parties of soldiers coming to get their rations cooked, or to ask for something to eat. Mother kept two servants hard at work, cooking for them. While we were at supper, a squad of a dozen or more cavalry-men rode up and asked for a meal. Every seat at the table was filled, and some of the family waiting because there was no room for us, so mother told mammy to set a table for them on the front piazza, and serve them with such as we had ourselves - which was nothing to brag on, I must own. They were so incensed at not being invited into the house that mammy says they cursed her and said Judge Andrews was a d - d old aristocrat, and deserved to have his house burned down. I suppose they were drunk, or stragglers from some of the conscript regiments enrolled after the flower of our armies had been decimated in the great battles.
We had a good laugh on Capt. Irwin this morning. He is counting on the sale of his horse for money to carry him home, and seems to imagine that every man in a cavalry uniform is a horse thief bent on capturing his little nag. A Capt. Morton, of the cavalry, called here after breakfast, with a letter of introduction from friends, and our dear little captain immediately ran out bare-headed, to stand guard over his charger. I don't know which laughed most when the situation was explained. Capt. Palfrey and Capt. Swett. of Gen. Elzey's
staff, called later to bid us good-by. They have money, but each was provided with a card of buttons with which they count on buying a meal or two on the way. Cousin Liza added to their store a paper pins and Cora another card of buttons. We laughed very much at this new kind of currency.
About noon the town was thrown into the wildest excitement by the arrival of President Davis. He is traveling with a large escort of cavalry, a very imprudent thing for a men in his position to do, especially now that Johnston has surrendered, and the fact that they are all going in the same direction to their homes is the only thing that keeps them together. He rode into town ahead of his escort, and as he was passing by the bank, where the Elzey's board, the general and several other gentlemen were sitting on the front porch, and the instant they recognized him they took off their hats and received him every mark of respect due the president of a brave people. When he reined in his horse, all the staff who were present advanced to hold the reins and assist him to dismount, while Dr. and Mrs. Robertson hastened to offer the hospitality of their home. About forty of his immediate personal friends and attendants were with him, and they were all half-starved, having tasted nothing for twenty-four hours. Capt. Irwin came running home in great haste to ask mother to send them something to eat, as it was reported the Yankees were approaching the town from two opposite directions closing in upon the President,
and it was necessary to hurry him off at once. There was not so much as a crust of bread in our house, everything available having been given to soldiers. There was some bread in the kitchen that had just been baked for a party of soldiers, but they were willing to wait, and I begged some milk from Aunt Sallie, and by adding to these our own dinner as soon as Emily could finish cooking it, we contrived to get together a very respectable lunch. We had just sent it off when the president's escort came in, followed by couriers who brought the comforting assurance that it was a false alarm about the enemy being so near. By this time the president's arrival had become generally known, and people began flocking to see him; but he went to bed almost as soon as he got into the house, and Mrs. Elzey would not let him be waked. One of his friends, Col. Thorburne, came to our house and went right to bed and slept fourteen hours on a stretch. The party are all worn out and half-dead for sleep. They travel mostly at night, and have been in the saddle for three nights in succession. Mrs. Elzey says that Mr. Davis does not seem to have been aware of the real danger of his situation until he came to Washington, where some of his friends gave him a serious talk, and advised him to travel with more secrecy and dispatch than he has been using.
Mr. Reagan and Mr. Mallory are also in town, and Gen. Toombs has returned having encountered danger ahead, I fear. Judge Crump is back too, with his Confederate
treasury, containing, it is said, three hundred thousand dollars in specie. He is staying at our house, but the treasure is thought to be stored in the vault at the bank. It will hardly be necessary for him to leave the country, but his friends advise him to keep in the shade for a time. If the Yankees once get scent of money, they will be sure to ferret it out. They have already begun their reign of terror in Richmond, by arresting many of the prominent citizens. Judge Crump is in a state of distraction about his poor little wandering exchequer, which seems to stand an even chance between the Scylla of our own hungry cavalry and the Charybdis of Yankee cupidity. I wish it could all be divided among the men whose necks are in danger, to assist them in getting out of the country, but I don't suppose one of them would touch it. Anything would be preferable to letting the Yankees get it.
Among the stream of travelers pouring through Washington, my old friend, Dr. Cromwell, has turned up, and is going to spend several days with us. Capt. Napier, Col. Walter Weems, Capt. Shaler Smith, and Mr. Hallam ate supper with us, but we had no sleeping room to offer them except the grass under the trees in the grove. Capt. Smith and Mr. Hallam are Kentuckians, and bound for that illusive land of hope, the Trans-Mississippi. They still believe the battle of Southern independence will be fought out there and won. If faith as a grain of mustard seed can move mountains, what ought not faith like this to accomplish!
Mr. Hallam is a high-spirited young fellow, and reminds me of the way we all used to talk and feel at the beginning of the war. I believe he thinks he could fight the whole Yankee nation now, single-handed, and whip them, too. He is hardly more than a boy, and only a second lieutenant, yet, as he gravely informed me, is now the chief ordnance officer of the Confederate army. He was taken prisoner and made his escape without being paroled, and since the surrender of Lee's and Johnston's armies, he really is, it seems, the ranking ordnance officer in the poor little remnant that is still fixing its hope on the Trans-Mississippi. They spent the night in the grove, where they could watch their horses. It was dreadful that we had not even stable room to offer them, but every place in this establishment that can accommodate man or beast was already occupied.
May 4, Thursday. - I am in such a state of excitement that I can do nothing but spend my time, like the Athenians of old, in either hearing or telling some new thing. I sat under the cedar trees by the street gate nearly all the morning, with Metta and Cousin Liza, watching the stream of human life flow by, and keeping guard over the horses of some soldier friends that had left them grazing on the lawn. Father and Cora went to call on the President, and in spite of his prejudice against everybody and everything connected with secession, father says his manner was so calm and dignified that he could not help admiring the man. Crowds
of people flocked to see him, and nearly all were melted to tears. Gen. Elzey pretended to have dust in his eyes and Mrs. Elzey blubbered outright, exclaiming all the while, in her impulsive way: "Oh, I am such a fool to be crying, but I can't help it!" When she was telling me about it afterwards, she said she could not stay in the room with him yesterday evening, because she couldn't help crying, and she was ashamed for the people who called to see her looking so ugly, with her eyes and nose red. She says that at night, after the crowd left, there was a private meeting in his room, where Reagan and Mallory and other high officials were present, and again early in the morning there were other confabulations before they all scattered and went their ways - and this, I suppose, is the end of the Confederacy. Then she made me laugh by telling some ludicrous things that happened while the crowd was calling.... It is strange how closely interwoven tragedy and comedy are in life.
The people of the village sent so many good things for the President to eat, that an ogre couldn't have devoured them all, and he left many little delicacies, besides giving away a number of his personal effects, to people who had been kind to him. He requested that one package be sent to mother, which, if it ever comes, must be kept as an heirloom in the family. I don't suppose he knows what strong Unionists father and mother have always been, but for all that I am sure they would be as ready to help him now, if they
could, as the hottest rebel among us. I was not ashamed of father's being a Union man when his was the down-trodden, persecuted party; but now, when our country is down-trodden, the Union means something very different from what it did four years ago. It is a great grief and mortification to me that he sticks to that wicked old tyranny still, but he is a Southerner and a gentleman, in spite of his politics, and at any rate nobody can accuse him of self-interest, for he has sacrificed as much in the war as any other private citizen I know, except those whose children have been killed. His sons, all but little Marshall, have been in the army since the very first gun - in fact, Garnett was the first man to volunteer from the county, and it is through the mercy of God and not of his beloved Union that they have come back alive. Then, he has lost not only his negroes, like everybody else, but his land, too.
The President left town about ten o'clock, with a single companion, his unruly cavalry escort having gone on before. He travels sometimes with them, sometimes before, sometimes behind, never permitting his precise location to be known. Generals Bragg and Breckinridge are in the village, with a host of minor celebrities. Gen. Breckinridge is called the handsomest man in the Confederate army, and Bragg might well be called the ugliest. I saw him at Mrs. Vickers's, where he is staying, and he looks like an old porcupine. I never was a special admirer of his, though it would
be a good thing if some of his stringent views about discipline could be put into effect just now - if discipline were possible among men without a leader, without a country, without a hope. The army is practically disbanded, and citizens, as well as soldiers, thoroughly demoralized. It has gotten to be pretty much a game of grab with us all; every man for himself and the Devil (or the Yankees, which amounts to the same thing) take the hindmost. Nearly all government teams have been seized and driven out of town by irresponsibile parties - indeed, there seems to be nobody responsible for anything any longer. Gen. Elzey's two ambulances were taken last night, so that Capt. Palfrey and Capt. Swett are left in the lurch, and will have to make their way home by boat and rail, or afoot, as best they can.
Large numbers of cavalry passed through town during the day. A solid, unbroken stream of them poured past our street gate for two hours, many of them leading extra horses. They raised such clouds of dust that it looked as if a yellow fog had settled over our grove. Duke's division threatened to plunder the treasury, so that Gen. Breckinridge had to open it and pay them a small part of their stipend in specie. Others put in a claim too, and some deserving men got a few dollars. Capt. Smith and Mr. Hallam called in the afternoon, and the latter showed me ninety dollars in gold, which is all that he has received for four years of service. I don't see what better could be done with
the money than to pay it all out to the soldiers of the Confederacy before the Yankees gobble it up.
While we were in the parlor with these and other visitors, the carriage drove up with Fred and Garnett and Garnett's "galvanized" attendant, Gobin. As soon as I heard the sound of wheels coming up the avenue, I ran to one of the front windows, and when I recognized our carriage, Metta, Cora, and I tore helter-skelter out of the house to meet them. Garnett looks very thin and pale. The saber cuts on his head are nearly healed, but the wound in his shoulder is still very painful. His fingers are partially paralyzed from it, but I hope not permanently. Gobin seems attached to him and dresses his wounds carefully. He is an Irish Yankee, deserted, and came across the lines to keep from fighting, but was thrown into prison and only got out by enlisting in a "galvanized" regiment. I wonder how many of the patriots in the Union army have the same unsavory record! He is an inconvenient person to have about the house, anyway, for he is no better than a servant, and yet we can't put him with the negroes. Garnett says the report about his galvanized troops having behaved badly in the battle was a slander. They fought splendidly, he says, and were devoted to their officers. If the war had lasted longer, he thinks he could have made a fine regiment out of them, but somehow I can't feel anything but contempt for that sort of men, nor put any faith in them.
Aunt Sallie invited Mr. Habersham Adams, her pastor, and his wife, to dinner, and Cousin Liza, Mary Day, Cora, Metta, and me, to help them eat it. She had such a dinner as good old Methodist ladies know how to get up for their preachers, though where all the good things came from, Heaven only knows. She must have been hoarding them for months. We ate as only hungry Rebs can, that have been half-starved for weeks, and expect to starve the rest of our days. We have no kind of meat in our house but ham and bacon, and have to eat hominy instead of rice, at dinner. Sometimes we get a few vegetables out of the garden, but everything has been so stripped to feed the soldiers, that we never have enough to spread a respectable meal before the large number of guests, expected and unexpected, who sit down to our table every day. In spite of all we can do, there is a look of scantiness about the table that makes people afraid to eat as much as they want - and the dreadful things we have to give them, at that! Cornfield peas have been our staple diet for the last ten days. Mother has them cooked in every variety of style she ever heard of, but they are cornfield peas still. All this would have been horribly mortifying a year or two ago, but everybody knows how it is now, and I am glad to have even cornfield peas to share with the soldiers. Three cavalry officers ate dinner at the house while we were at Aunt Sallie's. Mother says they were evidently gentlemen, but they were so ragged and dirty that she thought the
poor fellows did not like to give their names. They didn't introduce themselves, and she didn't ask who they were. Poor Henry is in the same plight, somewhere, I reckon. The cavalry are not popular about here just now; everybody is crying out against them, even their own officers. On their way from Abbeville, Fred and Garnett met a messenger with a flag of truce, which had been sent out by some (pretended) cavalrymen who had plundered a government specie wagon at the Savannah River and professed to be hunting for Yankees to whom they might surrender. Garnett says he does not think there are any Yanks within forty miles of Abbeville, though as the "grape vine" is our only telegraph, we know nothing with certainty. Boys and negroes and sportsmen are taking advantage of the ammunition scattered broadcast by the pillaging of the ordnance stores, to indulge in fireworks of every description, and there is so much shooting going on all around town that we wouldn't know it if a battle were being fought. Capt. Irwin came near being killed this afternoon by a stray minié ball shot by some careless person. The R.R. dépot is in danger of being blown up by the quantities of gunpowder scattered about there, mixed up with percussion caps. Fred says that when he came up from Augusta the other day, the railroad between here and Barnett was strewn with loose cartridges and empty canteens that the soldiers had thrown out of the car windows.
I have so little time for writing that I make a dreadful
mess of these pages. I can hardly ever write fifteen minutes at a time without interruption. Sometimes I break off in the middle of a sentence and do not return to it for hours, and so I am apt to get everything into a jumble. And the worst of it is, we are living in such a state of hurry and excitement that half the time I don't know whether I am telling the truth or not. Mother says that she will have to turn the library into a bedroom if we continue to have so much company, and then I shall have no quiet place to go to, and still less time to myself. It seems that the more I have to say, the less time I have to say it in. From breakfast till midnight I am engaged nearly all the time with company, so that the history of each day has to be written mostly in the spare moments I can steal before breakfast on the next, and sometimes I can only scratch down a few lines to be written out at length whenever I can find the time. I have been keeping this diary so long and through so many difficulties and interruptions that it would be like losing an old friend if I were to discontinue it. I can tell it what I can say to no one else, not even to Metta.... But after all, I enjoy the rush and excitement famously. Mett says that she don't enjoy a man's society, no matter how nice he is, till she knows him well, but I confess that I like change and variety. A man that I know nothing about - provided, of course, he is a gentleman - is a great deal more interesting to me than the people I see every day, just because there
is something to find out; people get to be commonplace when you know them too well.
May 5, Friday. - It has come at last - what we have been dreading and expecting so long - what has caused so many panics and false alarms - but it is no false alarm this time; the Yankees are actually in Washington. Before we were out of bed a courier came in with news that Kirke - name of ill omen - was only seven miles from town, plundering and devastating the country. Father hid the silver and what little coin he had in the house, but no other precautions were taken. They have cried "wolf" so often that we didn't pay much attention to it, and besides, what could we do, anyway? After dinner we all went to our rooms as usual, and I sat down to write. Presently some one knocked at my door and said: "The Yankees have come, and are camped in Will Pope's grove." I paid no attention and went on quietly with my writing. Later, I dressed and went down to the library, where Dr. Cromwell was waiting for me, and asked me to go with him to call on Annie Pope. We found the streets deserted; not a soldier, not a straggler did we see. The silence of death reigned where a few hours ago all was stir and bustle - and it is the death of our liberty. After the excitement of the last few days, the stillness was painful, oppressive. I thought of Chateaubriand's famous passage: "Lorsque dans le silence de l'abjection" &c. News of the odious arrival seems to have spread like a secret pestilence through the country, and
travelers avoid the tainted spot. I suppose the returning soldiers flank us, for I have seen none on the streets to-day, and none have called at our house. The troops that are here came from Athens. There are about sixty-five white men, and fifteen negroes, under the command of a Major Wilcox. They say that they come for peace, to protect us from our own lawless cavalry - to protect us, indeed! with their negro troops, runaways from our own plantations! I would rather be skinned and eaten by wild beasts than beholden to them for such protection. As they were marching through town, a big buck negro leading a raw-boned jade is said to have made a conspicuous figure in the procession. Respectable people were shut up in their houses, but the little street urchins immediately began to sing, when they saw the big black Sancho and his Rosinante:
"Yankee Doodle went to town and stole a little pony; He stuck a feather in his crown and called him Macaroni."
They followed the Yanks nearly to their camping ground at the Mineral Spring, singing and jeering at the negroes, and strange to say, the Yankees did not offer to molest them. I have not laid eyes on one of the creatures myself, and they say they do not intend to come into the town unless to put down disturbances - the sweet, peaceful lambs! They never sacked Columbia; they never burnt Atlanta; they never left a black trail of ruin and desolation through the whole
length of our dear old Georgia! No, not they! I wonder how long this sugar and honey policy is to continue. They deceive no one with their Puritanical hypocrisy, bringing our own runaway negroes here to protect us. Next thing they will have a negro garrison in the town for our benefit. Their odious old flag has not yet been raised in the village, and I pray God they will have the grace to spare us that insult, at least until Johnston's army has all passed through. The soldiers will soon return to their old route of travel, and there is no telling what our boys might be tempted to do at the sight of that emblem of tyranny on the old courthouse steeple, where once floated the "lone star banner" that Cora and I made with our own hands - the first rebel flag that was ever raised in Washington. Henry brought us the cloth, and we made it on the sly in Cora's room at night, hustling it under the bed, if a footstep came near, for fear father or mother might catch us and put a stop to our work. It would break my heart to see the emblem of our slavery floating in its place. Our old liberty pole is gone. Some of the Irvin Artillery went one night before the Yankees came, and cut it down and carried it off. It was a sad night's work, but there was no other way to save it from desecration.
Gen. Elzey, Col. Weems, and several other leading citizens went to the Yankee camp soon after they arrived to see about making arrangements for feeding the paroled men who are still to pass through, and to
settle other matters of public interest. It was reported that father went with them to surrender the town, but it was a slander; he has not been near them. Garnett's galvanized Yank immediately fraternized with them, and Garnett is going to send him away to-morrow. Gen. Elzey looks wretched, and we all feel miserable enough.
When Capt. Irwin came home to supper, he told me that he had been trying to draw forage from the Confederate stores for his horse, but could not get any because it was all to be turned over to the new masters. He was so angry that he forgot himself and let out a "cuss word" before he thought, right in my presence. And I wouldn't let him apologize. I told him I was glad he did it, because I couldn't swear myself and it was a relief to my feelings to hear somebody else do it. While we were talking, old Toby's bark announced a visitor, who turned out to be Capt. Hudson. Metta brought out her guitar, and she and Garnett tried to sing a little, but most of the evening was spent in quiet conversation. It seemed hard to realize, as we sat there talking peacefully in the soft moonlight, surrounded by the dear old Confederate uniforms, that the enemy is actually in our midst. But I realized it only too fully when I heard the wearers of the uniforms talk. They do not whine over their altered fortunes and ruined prospects, but our poor ruined country, the slavery and degradation to which it is reduced - they grow pathetic over that. We have a
charming circle of friends round us now. Judge Crump, especially, is one of the most entertaining men I ever knew. He has traveled a great deal and I was very much interested in his account of Dicken's wife, whom he knows well. He says that she is altogether the most unattractive woman he ever met. She has a yellowish, cat-like eye, a muddy complexion, dull, coarse hair of an undecided color, and a very awkward person. On top of it all she is, he says, one of the most intolerably stupid women he ever met. He has had to entertain her for hours at a time and could never get an idea out of her nor one into her. Think of such a wife for Dickens!
Porter Alexander has got home and brings discouraging reports of the state of feeling at the North. After he was paroled he went to see the Brazilian minister at Washington to learn what the chances were of getting into the Brazilian army. He says he met with very little encouragement and had to hurry away from Washington because, since Lincoln's assassination the feeling against Southerners has grown so bitter that he didn't think it safe to stay there. He says the generality of the people at the North were disposed to receive the Confederate officers kindly, but since the assassination the whole country is embittered against us - very unjustly, too, for they have no right to lay upon innocent people the crazy deed of a madman.
The Yankee papers are now accusing Mr. Davis and
his party of appropriating all the money in the Confederate Treasury to their own use, but thank Heaven, everybody in Washington can refute that slander. The treasury was plundered here, in our midst, and I saw some of the gold, with my own eyes, in the hands of Confederate soldiers - right where it ought to be.
The talk now is, judging from the ease with which Breckinridge was allowed to slip through this morning, that the military authorities are conniving at the escape of Mr. Davis. Breckinridge, when he found that the Philistines were about to be upon him, used a carefully planned stratagem of war to deceive Wilcoxson, by which he imagined that he gained time to destroy his papers and give him the slip, while in reality, they say, the Yanks were making no effort to detain him, and he might have gone openly with his papers unmolested. The general belief is that Grant and the military men, even Sherman, are not anxious for the ugly job of hanging such a man as our president, and are quite willing to let him give them the slip, and get out of the country if he can. The military men, who do the hard and cruel things in war, seem to be more merciful in peace than the politicians who stay at home and do the talking.